Check out Violet’s recap of the Season 9 Episode 4 of Doctor Who, titled Before the Flood, where the Doctor goes back in time to 1980 and meets the Fisher King! Following the recap, both Violet and Josh share their thoughts about the episode.
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Episode Recap of Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 4: Before the Flood
In this second part of a 2 part episode arc, the Doctor is alone in his TARDIS, seemingly addressing the audience, talking about the “Bootstrap Paradox.” The Doctor speaks of a time traveler who has gone back in time to meet Beethoven, but when he gets there, no one’s heard of him. Luckily, this time traveler has brought all of Beethoven’s sheet music for him to sign, copies it, and publishes it, allowing history to move forward. The question is, who composed the music?
Going back to the story, the Doctor, O’Donnell, and Bennett have arrived at the town in 1980, before it was flooded. It is when the spaceship first touched down. They see the spaceship, and go over to it. The Doctor realizes that it’s actually a hearse. But there are no markings on the wall — yet. They meet Prentis, one of the ghosts, who is from Tivoli, and explains that the body in the hearse is the Fisher King, who he has brought to bury. The Doctor tries to ask Prentis about the transmission, but he is clueless. They go to the TARDIS to talk to Clara.
Back with Clara, Cass realizes that the Doctor’s ghost is saying something different than the other ghosts. It’s a list of all their names. Just then, Clara gets a phone call from the Doctor in 1980. Clara breaks the news about the Doctor’s ghost appearing. The Doctor says he can’t change things, that he has to die. Clara says she’s not ready for that yet, and that if he loves her in any way, he’ll come back. He says he’ll do what he can.
Prentis returns to the spaceship hearse to find that the Fisher King is missing, and sees the writing on the wall. We see the shadow of creature approaching him.
Clara reports to the Doctor what his ghost is saying. The Doctor’s ghost comes inside and goes to the control panel, which he uses to open the Faraday cage and let the other ghosts out. The Doctor then talks to his ghost self. The ghost’s message then changes: “The chamber will open tonight.” The Doctor tells Clara to go with the others to the Faraday cage, but to leave the phone outside of the cage, and if it’s safe when she sees it ringing, then answer it.
When the Doctor is about to go back outside with Bennett, he tries to get O’Donnell to stay behind, but she refuses. They go to the spaceship, discover the Fisher King is now gone, and Prentis’s dead body is in his place. The hear the roaring of the Fisher King, and go inside the building to hide. They get split up, with the Doctor and Bennett together, and O’Donnell by herself. The Fisher King attacks her. Bennett and the Doctor find O’Donnell lying on the floor, dying. Bennett holds her as she dies. Bennett asks who’s next on the list, having figured out that the list of names the Doctor’s ghost was saying is the order of who is going to die. Clara is next. The Doctor says he is changing history to save Clara.
O’Donnell’s ghost appears outside the Faraday cage and takes Clara’s phone.
The Doctor and Bennett go back inside the TARDIS, as the Doctor intends to go back to the base and save Clara. However, the TARDIS instead brings them back to a few minutes before they arrived in 1980 the first time. Bennett wants to warn Prentis and save O’Donnell, but the Doctor tells him that he can’t. They hide and watch the other version of themselves interact with Prentis.
Inside the Faraday cage, they realize that the reason the ghosts didn’t hurt Lunn was because he didn’t see the writing on the spaceship. Therefore, he’s the only one that can get the phone back.
The Doctor realizes that his coat is torn, just like that of his ghost. He sends Bennett back to the TARDIS, and decides that he is now ready to face the Fisher King. The Doctor tells the Fisher King about the ghosts.
Lunn wanders down the hallways, and comes across the ghosts congregating. They approach him and surround him, then leave him alone and let him pass.
The Doctor asks what will happen when the Fisher King’s people arrive. He says that they will drain the oceans and put the humans in chains. The Doctor says this world is protected by him. The Fisher King says his people will come, and the Doctor will do nothing about it. He reveals himself as a big scary looking creature, and seems to have something against Time Lords.
Lunn finds Clara’s phone, and goes into the room to get it, but one of the ghosts lock the doors behind him. Meanwhile, Clara and Cass decide to venture out together. They get separated, and one of the ghosts approaches Cass from behind with an ax.
The Doctor stands up to the Fisher King, accusing him of violating something more important than time: he bent the rules of life and death. Therefore, the Doctor is putting things straight, and says this is where the Fisher King’s story ends.
Although Cass cannot hear the ghost following her, she seems to sense him, and crouches down and puts her hand on the floor to feel the vibrations. She ducks and runs away just as he swings the ax, and meets back up with Clara, and they run together.
The Doctor tells the Fisher King that he got rid of the words, and the message will never contaminate his friends. That’s the thing about knowing you’re going to die, you’ve got nothing left to lose.
Clara and Cass find Lunn, who warns them that it’s a trap. All of the ghosts start to converge on them, but they run away toward the Faraday cage.
The Fisher King exits the building alone, and looks into the spaceship, seeing that the writing is still there, realizing that the Doctor lied. One of the capsules inside the ship is missing, and causes the dam to explode, flooding the city and killing the Fisher King.
Back with Clara and the others, the capsule opens — and out pops the Doctor. The ghosts hear the roar of the Fisher King, and are drawn to the Faraday cage. Inside is the Doctor’s ghost — but it turns out it was just a hologram. They lock the ghosts inside the Faraday cage. The Doctor uses his sonic sunglasses to erase the writing from everyone’s memories. They go down to the Faraday cage, where Bennett is gazing longingly at O’Donnell’s ghost. Bennett tells Lunn to translate to Cass that Lunn is in love with her and always has been. Cass kisses Lunn.
Back alone in the TARDIS, the Doctor explains to Clara the chain of events, that he knew what to program his ghost to say because he saw what his ghost said, and that’s how he knew when to program the chamber to open. Clara questions when he first had the thoughts that made him do what he did. The Doctor refers back to the question of who composed Beethoven’s Fifth?
Violet’s Thoughts on Season 9 Episode 4 of Doctor Who: Before the Flood
The Doctor’s description of the Bootstrap Paradox about who composed Beethoven’s Fifth reminds me of Back to the Future and the question of who composed “Johnny B. Goode.” Marty plays the song in 1955, then Chuck Berry hears it and makes it his own. But who actually wrote the song then? It’s an interesting paradox, though it seems like the Doctor is suggesting that he composed Beethoven’s music. Or maybe just saying that he’s responsible for bringing so-called Beethoven’s music back to that time, and in essence is Beethoven. In any case, any excuse to see Peter Capaldi play guitar and act like a rock star is fine by me!
Overall, I thought this was an interesting episode, though I still feel like it was too convenient of an episode for there to be a deaf person around who could read the lips of the ghost people. Either way, I’m glad that the show is being diverse enough to use a deaf person and bring their talents to light.
So far, I think I’m enjoying this season more than I was enjoying last season by this point. Looking forward to seeing Arya, er, I mean Maisie Williams, on the next episode!
Josh’s Thoughts: Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 4: Before the Flood
Scenes from Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 5: The Girl Who Died
Here are scenes from the next episode of Doctor Who, titled The Girl Who Died: